It could be said, jokingly, that recreational fishing has gone to pot off Southern California -- this in the wake of news that 180 bales of marijuana were found Sunday 15 miles off Dana Point.
A private boater made the discovery. The U.S. Coast Guard then arrived to gather up all 8,068 pounds of weed, for delivery to the U.S. Boarder Patrol.
While this was a remarkable catch, anglers closer to the coast and at Catalina and other Channel Islands were experiencing vastly improved fishing for glamour species such as white seabass and barracuda.
A Facebook post Monday from 22nd St. Landing in San Pedro boasted: "LOTS OF BAAARRRRRAAAAACUUUUUDDAAAAAAA on the MONTE CARLO half day!!!! Limits of huge 40-50lb WHITE SEABASS on both the Pursuit and Freedom and barracuda on the Monte!!! SUMMER IS FREAKING HERE!!!"
Not all reports were so emphatic, but it's clear that the winter doldrums have ended.
One of the top recent catches was that of a 12-pound calico bass by an angler who did not wish to be identified or photographed. To put the catch into perspective, the International Game Fish Assn. lists as the all-tackle world record a 14-pound 7-ounce calico bass caught off Newport Beach in 1993.
The angler was fishing Thursday aboard the Reel Fun out of Dana Wharf Sportfishing and was persuaded by the crew to release the rare giant bass after it was weighed. (Capt. Dusty Mayo is pictured posing with the fish just before it was tossed back.)
Jeffrey Gunther, a twice-weekly angler aboard the boat, wrote to the landing general manager about the catch: "The passenger of course did not realize what he had accomplished (I have hoped to catch a fish like this for 50 years). Dusty and I explained how old this fish was and the fact that it would not be the best eating, and that it deserved to be released."
As for the marijuana, which has a street value of about $4 million, authorities do not know how long it had been floating or where it might have been lost or shoved overboard.